CINCINNATI — Andy Dalton got a little diversity into the Bengals’ offense.
With All-Pro receiver A.J. Green watching again, Cincinnati’s offense had an impressive first half in a 27-19 preseason victory over the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night. Everybody got involved.
Rookie running back Giovani Bernard started, carried seven times for 37 yards and a touchdown, and turned a short pass into a 22-yard gain, giving the Bengals (2-0) the diversity they’re seeking out of the backfield.
After failing to score in the first quarter of a 34-10 win in Atlanta last week, the Bengals’ starters piled up 220 yards in the first half on their way to a 17-3 lead. Dalton was 9 of 14 for 115 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu in the back corner of the end zone.
“I think we were a little bit hungry tonight,” Dalton said. “After last week, we wanted to put points on the board with the (starters) in there. So we go out of this game feeling a little bit better than last week.”
Green didn’t suit up for the game. He bruised his left knee on the first day of training camp and and returned to practice last week on a limited basis. He hopes to play in one of the two final preseason games.
The offense also was a focus for Tennessee (0-2), and things didn’t go nearly so well. Jake Locker played the first half and went 12 of 20 for 116 yards, but failed to get a touchdown. And Tennessee’s kickers didn’t help, missing three straight field-goal attempts.
The Titans spent the offseason reconfiguring their offensive line through free agency and the draft. They had a new combination for the second preseason game.
Right tackle David Stewart was back after missing the first preseason game against Washington with a sore right ankle. It was his first game action since he broke his right leg last Dec. 2. He settled in next to guard Chance Warmack, the No. 10 overall pick in the draft. At center was Fernando Velasco, competing for the job with Rob Tuner, who started the first preseason game.
The Titans got got 182 yards in the first half and averaged 4.4 yards per rush, an encouraging statistic. The Titans were last in the NFL in time of possession last season in part because their injury-depleted line struggled.
“We really got the running game going in the second quarter and continued it in the second half,” coach Mike Munchak said. “That was good to see. I think we took one drive, especially, and really made it an emphasis to run it and were able to do it when we wanted to.”
Their kicking game gave them problems.
Rob Bironas didn’t play in the 22-21 loss to Washington last week because of a bad back. He resumed kicking on Monday and missed two of his three attempts. Bironas was on target from 44 yards out on the opening drive, but was wide from 38 and 37 yards. Maikon Bonani then missed from 47 yards before making one.
Titans linebacker Akeem Ayers hurt his right ankle during the first quarter and walked off the field, then was taken on a cart to have it examined. Receiver Kendall Wright — Tennessee’s first-round pick last season — also left with a knee injury.